Football

Transfer deadline day: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona talks collapse after Arsenal striker exits Spain

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks set to miss out on a move to Barcelona with the La Liga club currently unable to reach an agreement with Arsenal after a dramatic deadline day which saw the former club captain fly out to Spain before an agreement was reached.

Aubameyang now seems set to return to north London, where he is an exile from Mikel Arteta’s first team, unless Arsenal and Barcelona can reach an increasingly unlikely agreement over who will pay what proportion of the 32-year-old’s weekly salary, worth in excess of $400,000.

Sources close to the deal confirmed to CBS Sports that Aubameyang had reached a full agreement with Barcelona over the loan deal but the Spanish club have struggled to find an agreement with Arsenal, who were taken by surprise when they discovered that Aubameyang had already made the trip to Barcelona. Some employees discovered only when he was pictured arriving at the airport. It has since been suggested that the player was travelling for a family holiday but that has now been cut short.

It will be a frustrating end to January for Aubameyang, who had rejected offers from elsewhere in a bid to secure a switch to a top European club, CBS Sports revealed earlier this month that the striker had been offered a loan move to Al Nassr, one which would have come with a $9 million mandatory purchase clause that would have been welcomed by Arsenal. Despite late attempts to charm the Gabon striker — including an exit clause that would have allowed Aubameyang to return to Europe in a year’s time — he was ultimately set on remaining in Europe.

Barcelona entered the fray in the final hours of the window but having signed Ferran Torres and Adama Traore — whilst failing to clear the final months of Ousmane Dembele’s contract off the book.

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It remains to be seen whether Arteta will bring Aubameyang back into the squad. After returning late from a club sanctioned trip to visit his mother in France the then-club captain was dropped from the first team and stripped of the armband. Prior to his trip to the Africa Cup of Nations, Aubameyang trained alone and was not part of the squad that traveled to Dubai last week.

Aubameyang, who is out of contract in the summer of 2023, has struggled for form since signing a new three-year contract with Arsenal prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, in 43 Premier League games he has scored just 14 goals. In the meantime, Arteta has been using Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah as his center forward options. The former has three Premier League goals this season, the latter none. Both are out of contract at the end of the season.

Arsenal had been attempting to upgrade in that position this month with technical director Edu Gaspar and manager Arteta were open to bringing forward planned summer business to the midseason window. Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad, Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Canada international Jonathan David are all targets. The former has a release clause believed to be priced at $100 million.

The Gunners have also been offered several players on loan this month, including Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic and Mehdi Taremi of Porto, and are working to upgrade Arteta’s strikeforce before the transfer window closes Monday night. Such deals, already unlikely before the Aubameyang talks collapsed, seem increasingly feint prospects now that Arsenal look like going into February with three strikers on the books.

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